How will Invisalign affect my life?

Invisalign Round RockWhen considering orthodontic treatment, patients will often weigh any inconveniences associated with the treatment and the overall effects that braces will have on their day-to-day lives. Fortunately, patients who choose Invisalign will experience minimal, if any, disruption to their daily routines.

Invisalign uses clear plastic trays to reposition the teeth rather than brackets and wires. Although patients should wear the trays for 20-22 hours per day to get the best results within the desired timeline, the trays can be removed at meal time and in the morning and evening to allow you to perform your oral hygiene routine.

Therefore, patients who choose this method will be able to continue to enjoy their favorite foods. Of course, sweet treats should still be limited in order to reduce your risk of tooth decay. Additionally, you won’t need to use any special tools or techniques beyond proper brushing and flossing to keep your teeth clean.

Another benefit of this system is that your smile is not obscured by metal appliances during treatment. Even “clear” brackets still require wires and cover up your teeth, but with Invisalign, you can enjoy the results as they develop.

To gain all of the advantages of Invisalign, patients do need to take on more responsibility for the treatment, however. With the dentist’s oversight, patients play a more active role with this system.

Patients will receive a number of Invisalign trays that must be changed periodically to keep the teeth moving in the desired direction. Patients need to adhere to the timeline provided by their dentist for changing the trays.

However, because the patient is essentially making the necessary adjustments, there are fewer visits to the dentist’s office with Invisalign. There’s no need to schedule appointments every few weeks to have wires changed or other appliances tweaked or modified. Most Invisalign patients will complete treatment within about 18 months, which is shorter than the period needed for traditional orthodontics.

Invisalign is unlikely to create the need for any significant changes in your life. Just be sure to wear the trays for the recommended amount of time each day and switch to a new tray according to the schedule provided by your dentist. Feel free to ask a member of our staff if you have any specific concerns about this treatment.

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What Can I Expect to Happen to My Teeth and Gums as I Age?

dentist north AustinThe entire human body evolves over time. Just like changes to skin, hair, and physical attributes; teeth and gums are likely to change as we age as well. One of the things that can improve the chances of maintaining excellent oral health throughout life is to keep appointments with your dentist every six months.

At these bi-annual dental appointments, you are receiving:

Thorough cleaning – all plaque that has built-up since your previous dental visit is removed. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on teeth that can result in dental decay and/or gum disease.

Polishing – Your teeth will look their best because after plaque is removed, your dental provider will use a high speed instrument to polish teeth to remove stain and brighten your teeth’s appearance.

Exam – Your dentist is not just looking for cavities during your appointment. You are being checked for problems associated with oral cancer, gum disease, broken or cracked teeth, TMJ, worn enamel (from teeth grinding and jaw clenching), and gum recession … as well as decay.

Your dentist is not just looking for cavities during your appointment.

You can assist your dentist and improve your chances of maintaining great dental health by following a few rules:

Brush at least twice each day with a fluoridated tooth paste or gel. Use a soft bristle tooth brush and do not use excessive pressure when brushing. A heavy hand can lead to premature gum recession.

Floss daily especially at night to remove dental debris your tooth brush did not reach. Daily flossing not only helps keep plaque limited, but gum tissue is stimulated each time you floss.

Monitor your diet to limit sugary snacks and beverages. Too much sugar increases plaque which contributes to dental decay and gum disease. This will be good for your waistline as well.

Do not smoke or use tobacco in any form.

Research has proven there is a correlation between dental health and overall physical health. People dealing with diseases of the immune system and/or heart disease face a greater chance of developing gum disease. Gum disease can affect people of all ages, but the risk increases when coupled with poor overall health.

While genetics may play a role in our ultimate dental health, taking great care of our oral health throughout life may allow us to keep our biological teeth for a lifetime of smiles.

Call Balcones Family Dental today and set up an appointment with one of our caring dentists.

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Avoid Metal Wires and Brackets with Invisalign

Invisalign Cedar ParkHaving straight teeth is more important for your dental health than a beautiful smile. However, many teens and adults are often more concerned about appearance and functionality than health concerns. But there is a way to achieve a great smile and healthy teeth without sacrificing aesthetics during treatment. Invisalign clear aligners provide results without metal wires and brackets.

An over bite, under bite, or cross bite can result in creating areas in the mouth where crooked teeth harbor bacteria increasing plaque build-up. This excessive plaque increases the likelihood for dental decay or gum disease. When teeth are straight, your tooth brush and floss have a better chance to reach those areas.

The advantages of Invisalign clear aligners over metal bands and brackets are numerous. They include:

Removable – Metal braces are cemented in place. They aren’t going anywhere until treatment is completed. Invisalign aligners are simply popped out to eat meals and snacks. This means no limits on what you can eat. Just put back when done.

Since they are removable, the daily oral hygiene regimen of brushing and flossing is easily completed without any metal obstacles.

Transparent – No one wants a mouthful of metal, but you can smile freely because these teeth straighteners are virtually invisible. The aligners are made from a clear material making your teeth straightening treatment indiscernible.

Comfortable – Metal wires can break poking into soft oral tissues or the metal bands can rub creating abrasions. This can’t happen with Invisalign because there are no metal or wires involved.

A consultation with our dentist will provide all the information you need to transform your misshapen teeth into a beautiful smile. Once you have been qualified for Invisalign, our dentist will take dental impressions, photographs, and x-rays.

These are the tools used by the Invisalign lab to fabricate a series of aligners using 3-D digital technology. The aligners are replaced every couple of weeks with subtle changes allowing teeth to be gently repositioned to correct the bite.

Aligners are designed to be worn a minimum of twenty to twenty-two hours every day to keep the straightening process on track.

At the conclusion of treatment, the patient will have a beautiful smile. But the ultimate reward is the potential for healthy teeth and gums improved to last a lifetime.

Call our team today at 512-200-7422 and set up a consultation with our skilled dental team.

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Subtle Straightening with Invisalign

Invisalign Cedar ParkSubtle straightening of teeth for improving the smile was once only treatable with full orthodontic appliances. With Invisalign, subtle straightening is possible and can easily fit into a patient’s daily routine with minimal behavioral changes or inconveniences. Invisalign utilizes clear, custom-made aligners that can be removed for eating and oral hygiene habits, making it easier for patients to continue their daily lifestyles while benefiting from the subtle straightening treatment.

The process begins with a visit to an Invisalign provider. After reviewing pictures, X-rays, and models of the teeth made from impressions taken in the office, the Invisalign dentist customizes the treatment plan for each individual patient. A series of aligners are made and at regular intervals, the aligners are changed to gradually move and guide teeth to straighter and healthier positions. Through the use of custom-made Invisalign aligners, gaps between teeth can be closed, slightly overlapping teeth can be repositioned for a better fit and smoother appearance, and the smile can be drastically improved in a matter of months. 

Invisalign utilizes clear, custom-made aligners that can be removed for eating and oral hygiene habits, making it easier for patients to continue their daily lifestyles while benefiting from the subtle straightening treatment.

The aligners are worn an average of 22 hours every day, and regular visits to the Invisalign dentist are necessary to ensure consistent progress and accurate timing for aligner changes. The aligners are clear and durable, but not unbreakable so patients are given specific instructions for maintaining the aligners. Aligners are cleaned with specially designed Invisalign cleaner tablets, similar to the tablets made for soaking and cleaning dental prosthetics. They can, alternatively, be cleaned with a gentle liquid soap and cool water. Hot water should be avoided as the heat can cause inadvertent bending and warping.

Invisalign aligners should be removed during eating and drinking. Chewing with the aligners in causes unnecessary pressure that can lead to damage. Beverages can seep into the aligners and cause staining or enamel damage to teeth, especially acidic and highly pigmented beverages. Water can be consumed with and without the aligners in, without concern. Regular daily flossing and twice-daily brushing habits are easily maintained with the removable aligners, as well.

For more information about subtle straightening and Invisalign options, contact our experienced dentistry team and schedule your professional consultation today.

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Do Certain Health Conditions Reduce Implant Success?

dental implants north AustinThe success of dental implants relies heavily on the patient’s overall and oral health before and after implantation, and the patient’s oral health, and to some extent their overall health, rely on good oral hygiene habits. Patients that are healthy, floss daily, and brush their teeth at least twice daily, with no signs of gum disease or other oral health concerns are generally considered good candidates for successful implant treatment. Patients with chronic health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes may require additional care to improve potential for success with dental implants.

Risk of infection is at the top of the list concerning implant patients. Gum disease can increase the likelihood of an infection developing and disrupting the healing process after implant surgery. It can also spread to the bloodstream and affect overall health, especially in patients with heart conditions. The healing process requires the jawbone to heal with the implant in place, and if this is interrupted the dental implant may not hold successfully. Dentists work with patients to improve overall conditions before performing the implant surgery, helping to ensure greater success.

Patients with diabetes and some heart conditions may struggle with repeated gum infections, gum disease, or related periodontal disease. These conditions must be improved prior to dental implant surgery. Part of the treatment process is helping the patient learn better brushing, flossing, and at-home oral health techniques, establishing consistent oral hygiene habits, and, when necessary, treating the periodontal conditions prior to implant surgery. If the jawbone is affected by underlying conditions, there may be insufficient bone to support the dental implant. In such a case, a bone graft is usually combined with the implant procedure for greater success.

The dentist works with patients on an individual basis to ensure the best chance of successful healing and long-term satisfaction from dental implant surgery. This may involve additional treatment factors to prepare for the implant, or it may involve more frequent follow-up care to ensure healing is sufficient after the procedure.

For more detailed information on dental implants and options that suit different needs, contact Balcones Family Dental at 512-200-7422 today!

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Can I Still Drink Tea and Coffee with Invisalign?

Invisalign north AustinIf you’re treating your misaligned or crooked teeth with Invisalign, it’s important to keep your trays in good shape and to keep them clean. If the aligner trays become warped or damaged, they won’t move your teeth properly. If they become stained, your teeth will look dingy until you switch to a new tray. For both these reasons, it’s important not to drink tea or coffee while you are wearing your aligner trays.

Caring for Your Invisalign Aligner Trays

When you received your aligner trays, our dentist will provide instructions regarding how to take care of them, how often to change them, and how long you should wear them every day. For the best possible results from your treatment, you should follow these instructions closely.

In general, guidelines on how to take care of your trays include:

  • Wear the trays at least 22 hours every day
  • Remove the trays when you eat
  • Rinse the trays to keep them clean and free of food debris
  • Avoid hot beverages or foods that can stain the trays

The trays are designed to move your teeth into the proper position, so it’s important to keep them clean and avoid anything that could change their shape.

Why Avoid Coffee and Tea?

Coffee and tea can affect your Invisalign treatment in two ways. First, they are usually hot beverages, so the heat of the liquid can cause your trays to warp out of their proper shape. Second, they are both staining agents. In the same way that tea and coffee can stain your teeth, they can also stain your aligner trays. If the trays become stained, they will no longer be clear. Because you have to wear each tray for about two weeks, during that time the stains will be visible, making your teeth look discolored.

If you want to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea with your breakfast, remove your trays first. However, be sure not to leave them out of your mouth for an extended period of time.

Call Balcones Family Dental today to set up an appointment with one of our skilled dentists.

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Benefits of Fluoride Treatments

north Austin dentistOn your regular visits to the dentist, you probably receive a fluoride treatment about once a year. These treatments help protect your teeth from decay and can even reverse decay in its very early stages. With these regular treatments, your teeth stay as healthy as possible.

How Does Fluoride Work?

Fluoride is one of a few minerals that help keep the teeth strong. Teeth are constantly being eroded by acids in the food we eat and beverages we drink. In addition, bacteria in the mouth create waste products that are also highly acidic and damage the teeth. If acidic food remnants or the plaque bacteria leaves behind are not cleaned away, they eat into the outer tooth surfaces. The early stage of this process is called demineralization. Eventually, the acids can eat through the enamel, creating decay.

Fluoride, however, helps rebuild the enamel through a process called remineralization. Fluoride strengthens the damaged areas and reverses the earliest stages of tooth decay. It also helps your teeth remain stronger and more resistant to acid erosion. This is why it’s important to use a fluoride toothpaste on a regular basis. In many places, fluoride is also added to drinking water, which helps keep teeth healthy, as well, especially the teeth of children, who have more difficulty maintaining regular dental care.

Fluoride strengthens the damaged areas and reverses the earliest stages of tooth decay.

Why Do I Need Extra Fluoride?

Fluoride treatments are a common procedure in dentistry. But if there is fluoride added to our drinking water, and we use toothpaste with added fluoride, why is it necessary to have fluoride treatments when we go to the dentist? The answer is that a dentist can use a stronger, more concentrated form of fluoride, and can apply it to your teeth in a variety of ways.

In the dental office, fluoride can be applied as a gel, foam, or varnish. Regular fluoride treatments are typically a gel or a foam, which helps strengthen the teeth and reverse minor decay that regular-strength fluoride hasn’t been able to remineralize. Fluoride varnishes can be used to reduce sensitivity and to seal the teeth to further protect from decay, so these applications of fluoride work even more thoroughly to protect your teeth.

Call our office at 512-200-7422 to set up your next appointment.

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The Important Role Saliva Plays in Oral Health

dentist north AustinSaliva is one of those things you never think about … that is until it is absent. The healthy mouth produces saliva day and night. If your mouth feels abnormally dry, your dentist should be consulted to determine the cause for the lack of saliva.

Saliva is the water produced by the salivary glands located in your mouth. Chewing, sucking, any mouth activity will generally induce saliva production. And this moisture has multiple responsibilities.

Saliva allows teeth and tongue to function properly allowing words to be formed correctly. If the mouth is dry or sticky, speaking becomes difficult, lips can become chapped, and your throat may become irritated.

Swallowing is aided by the moisture we produce when chewing. And the content of our “spit” aids in digestion.

Saliva has been coined “nature’s mouthwash” as this natural moisture helps keep the mouth flushed of harmful germs and bacteria. Without this constant flushing action, bad breath, dental decay, and gum disease are possible side effects. The continuous flow of saliva works to protect dental enamel.

What causes a dry mouth? There are some temporary situations like using an antihistamine when suffering from a cold or allergies. This medication is geared to dry up nasal congestion, but it usually does not stop there and can impact saliva production.

Nervousness at times like when preparing to address a crowd can make the mouth go dry.

These situations are temporary, but when your condition becomes more serious or permanent, your dentist can help.

Other more critical medications like those used to control high blood pressure or depression can cause dry mouth. Illness or advancing age can impact saliva production. When dry mouth lasts or becomes severe, this is called xerostomia. Your dentist may be able to change or adjust your medication.

When your mouth feels dry, you can try chewing sugar free gum or sucking on sugar free candy. Your dentist can recommend one of the many rinses available to promote oral moisture. Staying hydrated by consuming water throughout the day is helpful.

Saliva is critical to oral health. Brushing and flossing daily, and getting teeth cleaned by your dental professional every six months are things you can do to maintain dental health. But if you are experiencing an interruption in saliva production, see one of our dentists to improve your health and oral comfort.

Call our practice and set up a consultation with one of our dentists at Balcones Family Dental.

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Top Teeth-Staining Foods and Beverages

cosmetic dentistry Round RockA visit to the dentist results in great looking teeth. But within weeks, teeth can appear discolored or stained. Many people think only coffee or red wine can stain; however, anything you consume that is brightly colored (tomato sauce, beets, and berries) or sugar laden (soda, sports drinks, and candy) just to name a few, have the capability of staining your teeth. A consultation about cosmetic dentistry will provide a solution to match your budget and time frame.

Teeth stains can impact your willingness to eat, speak, and smile in public. After all, our teeth say a lot about us; so if your teeth have become discolored or marred by food stains or lifestyle habits, one brief dental appointment can make a life changing improvement.

Teeth stains can impact your willingness to eat, speak, and smile in public.

Your first dental appointment should be for a hygienic cleaning to remove plaque build-up. An exam will determine whether or not you are a good candidate for the most economical, yet impactful, cosmetic dentistry … teeth whitening.

With Zoom teeth whitening, your dental provider will take all the needed precautions to guarantee a successful outcome. The soft oral tissues are protected before the powerful whitening gel is applied to teeth. A laser is applied to expedite the process.

Our dentist will determine if a second application is needed to maximize the benefit of teeth whitening. But in this one brief appointment, you can expect teeth to be lightened up to eight shades. With Zoom in-office whitening, teeth can continue to brighten up to two weeks following treatment.

There are steps you can take to maintain your new bright smile. Avoiding drinking red wine, coffee, tea, and soda is not practical for many people. So, if you are going to imbibe, use a straw when consuming cold drinks. A straw will allow the beverage to bypass your newly whitened enamel. Never swish or hold beverages before swallowing.

Citrus has the capability to soften dental enamel, so avoid consumption of teeth staining foods and beverages as softened enamel can stain. Do not brush your teeth immediately after consuming citrus as dental enamel can be damaged.

Avoid tobacco products as the teeth are discolored whether smoked or chewed.

Once you have achieved your teeth whitening makeover, you can maintain your new smile by following the instructions of our cosmetic dentist … brush and floss daily and have teeth cleaned professionally every six months.

Call our office at 512-200-7422 to set up your teeth whitening appointment today.

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Common Misconceptions About Dental Health

Austin dentistMisconceptions surrounding dental health pose some of the greatest challenges to dentists and dental clinics. These professionals cannot keep all patients happy and healthy without patient support; they require help from the patients to optimize results in care. Educating patients to eliminate misconceptions goes a long way in establishing or improving overall dental health, which in turn has a positive impact on overall physical health.

Misconceptions regarding dental caries, more commonly known as cavities, leave many patients confused at dental checkups. Many believe that cavities are more common in children, which is far from true. Cavities can occur in any mouth with teeth, whether a child, adult, dog, or cat. Another misconception regarding cavities is their cause, with many believing that cavities come from sugar. While this is somewhat true, table sugar is not the only type of sugar consumed. Any carbohydrates consumed will breakdown into simpler sugars, and all of these can lead to increases in cavities, including carbohydrates from pasta and bread.

Despite the wide availability of dental floss, most dentists have patients that never touch the stuff! Patients complain about floss causing their gums to bleed, but in reality the gums bleed partly from not flossing. Bleeding gums are a sign of periodontal disease or inflammation in the gums. Patients that have sufficient brushing habits, brushing at least twice a day, and flossing at least once a day, experience far less gum irritation and bleeding than those that are less diligent with their at-home oral health habits. These brushing and flossing patients also tend to have easier checkups when visiting the dentist.

More serious misconceptions about dental health can lead to major health concerns. Periodontal disease, for example, if left untreated or if treated insufficiently, will progress and in advanced stages the bloodstream can carry the bacteria from the gums to the heart causing cardiovascular problems, among other potential risks. Likewise, non-dental illnesses and treatments can negatively affect teeth, bones, gums, and other aspects of oral health, leading to discoloration in teeth, weakened bone structure, bone loss, dry mouth, slow healing, or even tooth loss.

Discussing all health concerns with the dentist can improve treatment efforts for better dental and physical health. When patients treat dental health as important to overall health, and vice versa, the whole-body approach to treatment and preventive care is greatly improved. For more information about dental health, contact our skilled specialists at Balcones Family Dental today!

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